Raised in Rockland County, New York, 16-year-old Bishop Nehru boasts a level of confidence in delivery and lyrical range that transcend his age. The 12-track Nehruvia mixtape, which finds Bishop (who named himself after Tupac’s character in Juice) conveying his train of thought over instrumentals by MF Doom, Madlib, and J Dilla is quickly garnering attention from fans and critics alike. Wait a minute. Young, talented, and 1990s nostalgia? Sounds like a Joey Bada$$ from a year ago, no?
Despite the comparison, the young Nehru accepts it humbly. “That’s the big homey,” said Bishop during a visit to the XXL office. “I’m humbled by the comparison because he is dope.” With the game already checking for his talents, and a new project titled Strictly Flows EP on deck, XXL caught up with the high schooler on his rap dreams and beyond. —Eric Diep (@E_Diep)
On his rap name:
“Bishop is from Juice. Roland Bishop was Tupac’s character. In the movie, I don’t know. It fit perfectly because I was a fan of Tupac and the character in the movie. Instead of letting respect come to him, he went and took it. That’s basically what I want to do. Take people’s respect. Not that you have to respect me, but to the point where you are [like], ‘oh, his music, I respect it,’ even if you don’t like me as a person—like Kanye. Some people don’t like Kanye as a person, but you got to respect his music because it’s good.
“The Nehru part … the first prime minister of India, who worked alongside Ghandi for the whole peace movement. Obviously, he wasn’t really known. Ghandi was supposed to be elected as prime minister but he passed it down to Nehru. That’s basically where I got that from. Since he was like low-key and nobody knew about him, that’s what I wanted to take that from him. A person that is low-key, taking everybody’s respect.”
On building buzz:
“I was dropping music myself and people liked it. I was submitting it to blogs and stuff and a couple of them were actually posting it. That’s kind of how it happened. It was early. Before I even thought of dropping a mixtape, I dropped a video. I submitted it to WorldStar and it got on there. That was before I made a mixtape, I was just dropping like a track. Once it grew around that, people wanted more. Now, I’m working on my mixtape. More buzz came and more buzz. Now, I am here.”
On what he listens to:
“Nas. MF Doom—painting picture-wise. Story-wise—2pac with the emotion. I have a lot of inspiration, just stuff like that. That’s definitely where it comes from. Why I was listening to music like that; it was because my moms when she was younger, she listened to a lot of Nas. My moms and my aunt. They loved Nas a lot. That grew on me. Once I started listening to Nas, I started with the top five best rappers. Nas, Jay-Z, MF Doom, KRS-One. People like that. I just took that in and started branching out to different people. Andre 3000, Snoop, Dre. Eazy-E.
“The artists that I listen to are from the city. So I guess I developed the same senses. I observed the same things that they observed. I put it in my music. I think it’s done a lot. That’s really it. I’m making what I like to hear. I make music for my liking. If I don’t like it, I am not going to put it out—simple as that. I’m my biggest fan. So whatever I like, that’s what I put out. It sounds good to me then that’s what I put out.”
On the process behind the video “Misruled Order”:
“When I heard the beat, before I even wrote to it, I knew I was going to do a video for it. Just because of the feel I got from the beat. I vibed with it perfectly. I was thinking about corruption and nonsense that’s happening in life. With that, I was also thinking since my name was Bishop, why not have a little Juice theme to it? That movie had a whole lot of corruption and so on. So I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll take that.’ I put them both together and that’s what came up. The whole thing was just me painting my own picture. Different brushes, different colors, all that. I put them all together and it just came out a masterpiece to me. In my eyes, it’s perfect.
“When I was actually sitting down and writing the plot for it, I don’t know why I thought of this. Since in the movie Juice he killed his friend for whatever reason, that’s what I’d figured I was gonna do. I knew in my mind that it would create a buzz. I knew it was going to spark some controversy. I always wanted to have it connect somehow. It was just connecting the dots, painting and finishing the picture.”
On why he relates to 2pac:
“He was a great leader and he was a father to the fatherless. Through his music, he didn’t have to know you, but he could connect with one person. What one person’s emotion, what one person’s feeling. What’s going on in your mind, what’s going on in your sister’s mind. You know? He was good at connecting stuff. That’s what I liked about 2pac. Me, my whole life, my father wasn’t around. It was just me and my mom. Me seeing her go through her tough time and me doing whatever in school, I always listened to 2pac. It would help me through whatever I was going through.”
Meeting Joey Bada$$:
“I am a competitor. I want to be the best. Joey is cool. That’s my bro. That’s the big homie. I’m humbled by the comparison because he is dope. He is very good at rapping. But, I am also not offended, but I don’t like the comparison because that’s my competition at the end of the day. We are both after the same check, so that’s my competition.
“I met him a couple of times. At the SOBs show after he performed, he was downstairs and he hears the J. Dilla instrumental. He walked up to me and he was like, ‘Yo, you just did that Dilla instrumental?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He was like, ‘Word that’s tight.’ The next day, he tweeted it to all his fans. He was like, ‘Shout out to him for killing the show last night.’”
The young rapper movement:
“It shows that young people are on the rise. You don’t have to be a certain age to do something. Even if you do, the young people are expected to be the doctors and the people that cure cancer and HIV. We are the younger ones. The older people already had their chance and passed it down to the young people. I think that’s what is happening. We are actually starting to get respect. Young people are starting to develop a sense of the way they do things. They have the vision to do it. The older heads are accepting it.”